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Posts Tagged ‘mind’

  1. How to Soothe Body, Mind and Soul to Promote Healing

    November 15, 2015 by Diane


    Comfortable homey scene: Book on a tray with a candle

    I spent all of last week fighting a severe cold.

    Not fighting, really. Just lying in bed while it pummeled me.

    Some folks are masters at riding out a cold. Me? I’m cowed by the swagger of it. I crumble under its weight, pinned to the mattress, my world narrowed to the confines of my anxious mind. Without defenses to act as filter, the “what if” thoughts gain traction and I lie curled in my warm blanket believing that all of those books I’ve read on mindfulness and healing and treatments and nutrition are bunk. All of those words of wisdom didn’t slay the dragon. The dragon won.

    Oh, boo hoo. Cue the violin. The cello. The bass, for cryin’ out loud.

    Disgusted, I rise up. I’m done being sick! The surge of anger propels me to my feet, fumbling for thick socks, tucking a muffler around my throat, unwrapping a menthol lozenge, pulling on boots and jacket, flinging open the door and blinking at the thin winter sun, grateful for the blue sky. I walk the neighborhood and fill my senses with the signs of life. Life is bigger than the dragon. Life is everywhere. It’s in the oak trees that hold onto their stiff curled leaves. It’s in the squirrels dashing though fence holes carrying acorns in their jaws. It’s in the carload of children shoving each other in the back seat. It’s in the mossy roofs and the falcon cruising overhead with an eye for a thick brown mouse. It’s in the free little library stuffed with worn paperbacks that lean on each other for support. I saunter through the neighborhood and return home renewed in spirit but tired in body, my lymph glands swollen and painful from the work of draining, draining, draining.

    There is always something to buckle our knees from behind. We prepare ourselves for the worst and hope for the best. It’s the only way.

    When you’re feeling under the weather, here are ten steps to soothe your body, mind and soul as you weather the storm:

    1. Watch your thinking. Are your thoughts of the dreadful variety? Dwell on the opposite. For five minutes. Then ten. Then twenty. Be Shirley Temple at heart, Scarlett O’Hara in determination. Tell yourself: “I can choose to focus on my anxious thoughts, or I can choose to do what I can for myself in this moment to feel better.” Tell yourself: “I can choose to worry about this or I can be mindful of these thoughts and not spiral into the bottomless pit of anxiety.”
    2. Infuse yourself with healing energy. Here’s a short Qigong exercise to cleanse your lungs and clear away feelings of lethargy and sadness. Or try some of Donna Eden’s healing techniques, like this one to help a sore throat. If nothing else, her joyous vibe is a balm.
    3. Focus on what you love. The scruffy cat curled next to you. The man in the kitchen washing dishes. That kid who dreams of becoming an astronaut.
    4. Surround yourself with comfort. A soft blanket, your terrycloth robe, a book within arm’s reach, a fuzzy teddybear.
    5. Distract yourself. Watch funny movies. Read feel-good novels. I recommend The Rosie Project, anything by P.G. Wodehouse, or anything by Rosamunde Pilcher. Listen to audio books. Anything to distract you, to lift you from your lonely self.
    6. Take in nourishment. Warm broths. Herbal teas. Oatmeal. A protein smoothie. When you read, take in the inspirational words. When you walk, take in the abundance of life. Take in the memory of that fine day at the beach when a seagull kept you company and the waves rolled gently on the white sand.
    7. Let go. There’s nothing you need to do except allow your body to heal. You’re tired, so give in to the mattress. Let go of the body tension. Let go of those depressing thoughts that scratch at your throat.
    8. Drink up. Lots of water to flush away the virus lingering in the hallways of your immune system.
    9. Do self-soothing activities. Nap. Draw. Doodle. Write without regard to a finished product. Do crossword puzzles. Sip warm water. Meditate. Pray. Talk to someone who cares: your mother, your sister, your best friend, your lover, your spouse, your inner wise self, God. Whatever soothes the soul is good medicine.
    10. Look to the future. Tell yourself: “I look forward to feeling strong and healthy again.” Tell yourself: “This is a temporary situation and I will rise again.” Tell yourself: “I’m healing. I’m mending. I’m so over this friggin’ cold.” Buckle the knees of that dragon and gouge out it’s red eyes. The dragon is a bit player in your life’s comedy. Refuse to give it a starring role.


    And you? How do you soothe yourself when feeling under the weather?

  2. Some Might Think You’re A Hypochondriac When…

    June 21, 2015 by Diane

    Shelf with books

    Some might think you’re a hypochondriac when you’re abnormally anxious about your health. But when does normal anxiety about one’s health become abnormal?

    A case in point…

    I became concerned about my cortisol levels. All of those adrenaline surges I’d suffered night after night after night had battered my adrenal glands to the point where they were shooting out cortisol like water from a busted fire hydrant. So obviously I needed to reset my adrenals, right?

    There’s a book on how to do that very thing.

    This book was written by a doctor who was on the Dr. Oz show. Not that I watch the Dr. Oz show (although if I was a hypochondriac, tuning in daily would be a tell-tale symptom). No, my mother watches the show, or she watched it this once—when the adrenal reset expert was on—and she recorded it and called me that evening and replayed the whole thing, repeating everything the doctor said about resetting your cortisol levels, which was this:

    “For breakfast, eat raw oats with berries, nuts and coconut milk.”

    I already did!

    So why was I still having those adrenaline surges?

    I looked up this expert online, and got his book, and in the book he clearly states the opposite: that it’s pure protein you should eat for breakfast, meaning MEAT, not carbs. Which is downright confusing! And I told him so in an email.

    Hey, on the Dr. Oz show you said to eat oats for breakfast, but in your book you said…

    Someone in his office emailed back, and gave me this explanation: there wasn’t much to choose from on the Dr. Oz set, so we went with what was available.


    Just who is this doctor?

    Dr. Christianson.

    Yeah, Dr. Christianson! That’s who.

    But I digress.

    In between adrenaline surges, I like to sleep with my left arm flung overhead. The result? When I wake up in the morning it’s numb, which in my book is a clear symptom of a heart attack. Is this the thought process of a hypochondriac? I think not. After all, my arm has gone numb many a time. For instance: one afternoon I set my laptop on the ironing board and stood and typed for an hour, my shoulders pressed into my earlobes, and sure enough, my left arm went numb. Now if that isn’t the start of a cardiovascular incident, I don’t know what is, right? Furthermore, if I was a hypochondriac–which I’m not–I might have called Dr. Oz himself, or even Dr. Christianson, for advice. If I had their numbers. But I didn’t. So I called the next best expert: my mother.

    “Um, my left arm is kinda numb, and it’s bugging me.”

    I was taking a walk when I called her, so it’s unlikely that I was having a cardiovascular incident, which her rational mind pointed out to me. Still, you can never be too sure.

    Now, some people might think that makes me a hypochondriac. And if they’ve read my blog, they might also think that I have generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and insomnia (NO-ZZZ), all of which add up to an obvious case of Squirrels in the Doohickey (SITD).

    But is my concern abnormal?

    Oh, sure, I’m not above asking people if I can poke around their stomach to see if it feels like mine, since mine feels like a mine-field.

    “That’s your vertebrae you’re feeling,” my doctor claims.

    “That hard knot?”

    “It’s your spine.”

    “Through my stomach?”

    “You’re thin.”

    “Here…that thing?”


    “Can I feel yours?”

    I’m not above asking my boyfriend to offer his abdomen to my probing fingers.

    “Can I…”

    “Oh for God’s sake…”

    And with an audible sigh he’ll roll onto his back and offer his belly, like a dog does, but not as happily, and I’ll knead away, like a cat does, but not as peacefully, and his belly, every time, feels soft and warm and pliant and not at all like mine.

    Now I ask you…does that make me a hypochondriac? Or you, for that matter–if you found yourself nodding with recognition?

    Some might think so.

    Some might think you’re a hypochondriac because you have the urge to feel a stranger’s carotid artery in the elevator after surreptitiously feeling the odd shape of your own. “Excuse me…”

    Some might think you’re a hypochondriac because you count the number of coughs you have in one day (throat clearings don’t count), and by two o’clock in the afternoon you’re up to fifty and wonder if you’re being a tab obsessive.

    Some might think you’re a hypochondriac because one whole bookshelf in your bedroom is filled with medical tomes. Especially if it’s a paramedic looking at that shelf (the night you end up going to the hospital wearing your own pajamas and come home wearing someone else’s), and as he scans that row of medical titles, his eyes flash a warning to his buddy that says, “uh-oh, hypochondriac,” ….well, I’m here to tell you one thing: don’t believe it.

    Not for a second.

    Because in my mind…

    (that is, if we’re really talking about you in this scenario, and not me),

    …in my mind you’re perfectly normal.

  3. Your World is How You View It

    April 19, 2015 by Diane

    Young Woman Capturing Photo Using Vintage Camera. Monochrome Por

    Picture a world where magic is commonplace. Where people of all creeds and colors sing together in harmony. Where fun is had at any age, and food is plentiful, and everyone is merry and childlike and awestruck at least once a day.

    That world exists.

    It’s the world of Disney.

    I recently watched Saving Mr. Banks on DVD. In case you haven’t seen the film, it’s the story of Walt Disney’s quest to purchase the movie rights to Mary Poppins. But the author, P. L. Travers, is a stubborn nut to crack, and doesn’t want to part with her creation. It takes years of wooing and convincing on Disney’s part, but finally the movie gets made. Oh, sure, there’s plenty of backstory revealing why Travers is the persnickety, repressed woman that she is, but those darker scenes are outweighed by the delightful world of Disney Studios, where scriptwriters and lyricists dance around like children (and Bradley Whitford waltzing in a goofy manner is reason enough to watch the film).

    Anyway, it’s a delightful movie, and I was sharing my delight with a neighbor—let’s call her Chicken Little—who agreed. She lit up, and said, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we were all just a bit more reserved nowadays?” and then she deflated. “Oh, Diane, the world is going downhill.”

    And I thought…really? What lens are you looking through?

    But I wasn’t about to get into an argument with this woman. I wasn’t about to point out that Saving Mr. Banks is set in the early ‘60s, a time of rampant racism and the brewing of the Vietnam War and the uprising of women fed up being repressed. And before that, there were two world wars and poverty and prohibition and rationing and polio and tuberculosis and some guy named Jack the Ripper. There were men in white coats who carted you away in a straightjacket if you suffered a mental illness. There was the plague and beheadings and…well, you get my drift.

    There were always frightful things afoot, but no immediate broadcasting throwing it into our faces 24/7.

    I understand how Chicken Little came to adopt her particular viewpoint. She scours the internet daily, pouncing on scary, negative stories that will back up her vision of a world in decline. Through the mail she receives angry, doomsday missives from her political party. She seeks out people who hold similar negative views, and together they chew on the gristle of their dissatisfaction.

    But what about the wonderfulness of the universe? It’s there, too. We might not live in a Disney world, but it’s not skidding into skid row, either, regardless of what our elected officials may spout. And while it’s important to be aware of what’s occurring around us—even the horrendous stuff—if we are unable to personally change it for the better, isn’t it best to focus on all that is good? And in so doing, expand that goodness?

    Just as Disney created his own playground of the mind (and a literal one for all of us to scamper in), Chicken Little creates the world she believes in.

    So I write this for the Chicken Little in us all:

    Where do you aim your lens? Do you focus on the fearful tales that the media highlights? Do you dwell on the people in your life who are grit under your eyelids? Do you rehash the mistakes you’ve made?

    Or do you see the possibility in every human being you encounter? Do you remember the times you triumphed? Do you speak uplifting words? Do you find humor in the craziness?

    Where do you aim your lens?

    Because you have a choice. You are the director of your life. You are the producer and the writer and the actor. You have a choice of whether to live in a drama or comedy or romance or fantasy or action-adventure or cartoon. And if you suffer abuse or unemployment or a life-threatening illness, or mental, physical, or spiritual pain of any kind, then you need to sharpen your focus on something joyful. You need to remember: above the clouds, the sun is always shining.

    It’s not easy. Our thoughts are squirrelly things.

    But I do believe it’s necessary. For the sanity of ourselves and our planet.

    So let’s ask ourselves, periodically, throughout the day: Where am I aiming my lens? What view, of all the views in this buffet of life, am I choosing to focus upon?

    And choose the uplifting one.